Preview: Sydney FC v Adelaide United
Sydney puts its four-match unbeaten run on the line when in tackles Adelaide on Sunday in a match which could see the Sky Blues reclaim top spot on the table.
Date: Sunday December 27 Kick-off: 7:00pm AEDT, 6:30pm ACDT Venue: Sydney Football Stadium
Head-to-head 16 A-League meetings: Wins: Sydney 8, Adelaide 6, Draws: 2
Previous Meeting Adelaide United 2, Sydney FC 1, Hindmarsh Stadium October 2009
Past five matches: Sydney FC: Round 16: Sydney FC 1, Newcastle Jets 3, Sydney Football Stadium Round 17: Sydney FC 4, North Queensland Fury 1, Sydney Football Stadium Round 18: Wellington Phoenix 0, Sydney FC 1, FMG Stadium - Palmerston North Round 20: Melbourne Victory 0, Sydney FC 0, Etihad Stadium Round 19: Sydney FC 1, Central Coast Mariners 0, Sydney Football Stadium
Adelaide United: Round 15: Adelaide United 1, Gold Coast United 1, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 16: North Queensland 2, Adelaide United 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 17: Adelaide United 0, Newcastle Jets 2, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 18: Brisbane Roar 0, Adelaide United 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 20: Adelaide United 1, Wellington Phoenix, Hindmarsh Stadium
Analysis: Sydney puts its four-match unbeaten run on the line when in tackles Adelaide on Sunday in a match which could see the Sky Blues reclaim top spot on the table.
Sydney has had a busy past two weeks, with three matches in the space of 11 days and it has emerged with two wins, away to Wellington and home to Central Coast, either side of a dogged 0-0 draw with main premiership rival Melbourne. It is currently level on top of the table, but has played one extra game.
Putting behind them a three-match losing streak in November, the Sky Blues have bounced back on the strong form of the likes of Alex Brosque and Steve Corica to look in a strong position to challenge Melbourne for the honours with a little more than a handful of matches remaining.
Much as was the case early in the season, Sydney has relied on a strong defensive discipline to move its way into contention, conceding just one goal in the past four games. Vitezslav Lavicka has had a consistent line-up on the park week in week out and that's reflected in their return to form.
While his players will back up after just four days for this match, it-s hard to see the coach making any major changes for this match. He is set to give John Aloisi a return from injury off the bench while Adam Casey and Rhyan Grant have been included in an extended squad. Kofi Danning's season is over after rupturing his ACL in the Youth League last week.
Adelaide's decline to the lower reaches of the table has been largely due to the fact the Reds have won just one of their past eight matches. The issue is simply an inability to find the back of the net with just 16 goals from 19 matches. That problem is magnified ahead of this match with Sydney boasting the tightest defence in league.
One of the major issues seems to be the Reds' inability to start and the game in a positive manner. Not once in the 19 matches have they scored a goal in the first 20 minutes of a match. When a statement is there to be made early on the Reds marksman have gone missing. Only three Adelaide players have scored more than one goal so far this season, and captain Travis Dodd, a regular scorer for the club over the past few years, is not one of them.
Dodd's fitness and form have both been concerns this year, but he is back after missing last week through injury. Lloyd Owusu, Robert Cornthwaite and Mark Rudan have all been included while the injury-troubled seasons of Paul Reid (adductor) and Kristian Sarkies continue and both have been omitted.
The one encouraging aspect Adelaide can take into this match is that its best performance of the season came against Sydney at Hindmarsh Stadium in October. Down to ten men inside the first ten minutes, the Reds produced a great effort to prevail 2-1 with Cristiano scoring both goals.
Aurelio Vidmar will be looking to his Brazilian striker to have a major influence on this match as well as youngster Matthew Leckie, one of the real positives for the Reds this season.
But Sydney's defence has been so strong in recent weeks, that it looms as a huge task for Adelaide to secure a second win in nine trips to the Sydney Football Stadium.
Sydney FC squad: 1. Clint BOLTON (GK), 2. Sebastian RYALL, 3. Stephan KELLER, 4. Simon COLOSIMO, 6. Karol KISEL, 7. Brendan GAN, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 9. John ALOISI, 10. Steve CORICA (C), Shannon COLE, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 15. Terry McFLYNN, 16. Chris PAYNE, 18. Adam CASEY, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (GK), 22. Sung Hwan BYUN, 23. Rhyan GRANT *three to be omitted*
In: Adam CASEY (returns from suspension), Rhyan GRANT (promoted), John ALOISI (returns from injury)
Unavailable: Kofi DANNING (knee - season)
Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 2.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 3.ALEMAO, 4.Iain FYFE, 5.Daniel MULLEN, 6.CASSIO, 7.Lucas PANTELIS, 9.CRISTIANO, 10.Adam HUGHES, 11.Lloyd OWUSU, 13.Travis DODD (c), 14.Scott JAMIESON, 15.Francesco MONTEROSSO, 16.Inseob SHIN, 17.Michael MARRONE, 18.Fabian BARBIERO, 19.Mathew LECKIE, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 21.Mark RUDAN *4 to be omitted*
In: Lloyd OWUSU (promoted), Robert CORNTHWAITE (promoted), Mark RUDAN (promoted),
Out: Paul REID (abductor - 1 week), Kristian SARKIES (quad - 2 weeks)
Unavailable: Joe COSTA (knee - long term injury list)